AUSTIN, Texas—A patented vocal smoke detector that will dramatically reduce the number of deaths and injuries to children during residential fires was awarded the grand prize Saturday evening at the 20th annual Global MOOT Corp competition at The University of Texas at Austin. Kidsmart Corporation, a team of three MBA student entrepreneurs from the University of Georgia, beat 29 teams from the world’s top business schools to take home the $100,000 prize at the 3-day business plan competition.
The Kidsmart vocal smoke detector is designed to waken children from deep sleep by combining a recorded “wake-up” command in the parent’s voice with a temporal tone siren that will alternate with the verbal wake-up command.
Kidsmart’s tests and research show that, even when sleeping, children respond to verbal commands in a parent’s voice because of the ability of the brain to focus on one’s own name or a familiar voice even while sleeping or in a noisy venue. The Kidsmart smoke detector allows parents to record personalized instructions for their children on how to escape the residence in case of a fire.
“The Kidsmart team clearly has a business idea that meets a burning need,” says Dr. Gary Cadenhead, director of the MOOT Corp program at The University of Texas at Austin. “They have a creative product and a strong management team—I see them doing very well in the marketplace.”
Organic Energy Systems, the team from The University of Texas at Austin, was named first runner-up. Their proposal was for a business that would make and market economic and environmentally-friendly energy systems. Customers could use biomass waste such as manure as a cost-effective way of producing electricity.
The final round of competition on Saturday featured five teams promoting an eclectic array of products, from an herbal treatment for periodontal disease to software that allows consumers to design their own needlecraft patterns. As a simulation of the real-world challenge of soliciting start-up funds for a business, teams competed to convince four venture capitalist judges to fund their venture.
Teams were judged on the quality of their business ideas, the strength of the management team and the clarity and persuasiveness of their business plans and oral presentations.
“We all felt that each of the five teams this year was very competitive,” says Mike Hoffman, an editor at Inc. magazine and a judge in the final round of competition. “We’re always excited to come to this event and meet the students. Out of the five finalists today, I think all of them will be up and running as businesses in the near future.”
Started at The University of Texas at Austin in 1984 by MBA students, the MOOT Corp competition is the oldest and largest intercollegiate business plan competition in the world.